Marathon monster: Adidas Boost

The shoe: Adidas Boost

Load up your feet with some Adidas energy capsules and go

Load up your feet with some Adidas energy capsules and go

The official description: “You put a lot of energy into your run and…the Energy Boost gives some of it back.”

Thousands of “energy capsules are melted together into one midsole that will change your run forever,” says Adidas.

Just in case you’re not convinced, the shoe company adds: “This is only the start of the running revolution.”

We sayEnergy capsules, is that code for something? Is this shoe on amphetamines? Is that why it feels so freakin’ fast?

Well, hardly. But the fact of the matter is the Boost is a welcome anomaly in a time of minimalist and minimalist transition shoes. The Boost dares to be a cushioned shoe and furthermore not only does it very well, but pretty much locks up the whole category.

Here’s the deal: Adidas has obviously developed some kind of proprietary, high-tech cushioning material; the lower third of the shoe has some sort of rubberized compound that’s almost like Styrofoam. Press your thumb into it and you can feel some give, but it retains its mix of spring and sponginess.

That’s the boost. That’s what appears to so neatly absorb the impact of your foot strike while rebounding enough to add a little sprightliness to your step.

The Boost is a neutral, cushioned shoe designed for mid-foot landing. It actually has a hard plastic platform exactly at the shoe’s mid-point, which Adidas refers to as its “Torsion system,” and says allows the front and rear of the shoe to move independently.

Compared to some of the more minimalist shoes I’ve recently run in, I don’t really notice any extra freedom in the movement. What I do find is the Boost seems to cradle the feet comfortably and that the forefoot is relatively stiff but responsive, while the shoe itself doesn’t offer a whole lot of flex.

While the Boost “energy capsules underlay the entire sole, a thin, but tough rubber traction  surface Adidas calls “Adiwear” covers the major “strike” areas of the shoe. Functionally, this is very smart. It prevents the Boost compound from breaking down and also provides superior traction in most conditions.

Traction and more

Traction and more

One of the things I love best about the Boost – and love is not too strong a word – is its compression-like fit. That is a piece of superior design that, in my opinion, the company should be trumpeting more.

The shoe fits so snugly that Adidas actually recommends you move up half a size. I was skeptical, but the material acts like a compression sock and wraps your foot snugly. At the same time, the material breathes nicely; I never noticed my feet overheating or otherwise becoming uncomfortable.

The original Boost (Adidas has since added several new colours) is extremely subdued in black and silver while the Boost compound is white. A very subtle (almost unnoticeable) yellow stripe separates the latter from the shoe’s upper.

With so many vibrant colours currently dominating the shoe market, the understated touch is welcome.

Okay, you say, but how does it feel? What’s it like to run in?

Let’s put it this way: I’ve run in a lot of great shoes this year, but none that I’d want to use for my long runs or marathons.

The Boost is different. It’s cushioned without going overboard. When I hit the hills, I typically run on my forefoot and with the Boost could feel a natural toe-off as I climbed.

The shoe is very forgiving, not only for long runs, but for medium-long to long runs done at a faster pace. I’m able to run the distance with intensity and not feel beat up after.

And while the Boost is cushy, it’s not sloppy.

Everything about the shoe suggests a lot of thought was put into reinventing what our current idea is of a cushioned shoe in order to capture the category.

At 9.5 ounces, the Boost is actually one of the heaviest shoes I currently own. I can’t tell the difference though. On the road, it feels light, stable and nimble, and, to date, has gone the distance without any discomfort.

The bottom line: The Adidas Boost is my new long run and marathon shoe. It provides the support and cushion I want over the distance without numbing my contact with the ground.

Energy capsules? Yes, please.

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About subthree

A multiple award-winning journalist, I'm currently a contributing editor with both Canadian Running and Canadian Cycling magazines. My articles have appeared in Explore, Canadian Geographic, enRoute, The National Post, The Globe and Mail, and many other magazines and newspapers. Formerly a competitive cross-country mountain biker, I switched to running in 2006. I've run seven marathons, qualifying for Boston five times (and which I've run once). Generally, I've placed or won in my age group in races, in distances ranging from five and 10 kms to half and full marathons. I've also taught spin classes at a number of leading Eastern Canadian gyms. Sub-three was a 2012 #Runchat finalist for Best Overall Blog.
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21 Responses to Marathon monster: Adidas Boost

  1. Ian Cordner says:

    These sound like they may be worth trying. My running days came to a literal stop following foot surgery two years ago and could never find a shoe with sufficient forefoot cushioning. Most companies seemed to focus on heel strikers but being a track guy when young (800m.) I was always a mid-foot or ball of the foot runner. Hopefully, these will reduce the after-run soreness and give me a few more years of racing, pain free!

  2. I’ve been an Adidas fan for a couple of years now and I’ve only run in Adidas shoes until I bought my NB Minimus, well, for minimus runs. I’m intrigued by these funky looking shoes and I’d love to give them a try too. I’m always a bit concerned that such thick cushioning would mess up with my forefoot/midfoot strike, but since you didn’t notice a downside to it, I trust you. These may just be my next pair for the marathons as well. Can’t go wrong with Adidas in my book, my feet love them! Something to look for next time that I find myself in a shoe store… Thanks for the review!

    • subthree says:

      Among other shoes, I’ve been running in Adidas Bostons for a couple of years now and previously they’d been my long run shoe. This is quite an evolution over the Boston. I pair the shoes with cushioned Belaga socks and find they’re terrific. Last night I ran 19 km at 4:29/km pace in the shoes and today don’t feel sore at all, whereas in a different pair I might very well experience some delayed muscle onset soreness.

      • Steve Schumph says:

        Charles… 19 km @ 4:29/km… impressive!

      • subthree says:

        Hey Steve: How’s the running going? I managed to run 10 km @ 4:20/km pace tonight. Start to feel like three years ago again. Hope you’re well.

      • Steve Schumph says:

        Running is coming around. Hitting about 70k per week albeit at a slow pace. Achilles tendons are troublesome but as long as I get rest when they flare up I seem no worse for wear. Nice to see you are out there and training well – gives a guy some hope 😉

  3. TMcG says:

    I’m hoping to run Chicago in the Adios Boost this fall!

  4. Ryan Jacobson says:

    Charles, what size shoe do you wear? Just, you know, wondering…since you get to test so many sneakers…perhaps,(ahem) we could make a deal. Size 10 for me! 🙂

  5. Donna Gaskin says:

    So for us “Heel Strikers” would you say this shoe could deliver the same results??? From your responses it seems that it’s primarily for mid-foot strikers….

    • subthree says:

      Best thing for you to do, Donna, is to try out a pair and see how they feel. All I can tell you is they have a lot of cushion built up around the heel of the shoe, so I’m guessing it would offer you protection. Of course, you should also work on your form so you can get away from heel striking as well.

  6. Jeff B. says:

    Nice review Sir Charles!

    Was fortunate enough to receive a pair of Boost shoes a couple months ago as part of a seeding/test program.

    Having not historically been a fan of adi shoes, I was looking forward to trying this shoe since my last adi experience was a pair of the Equipment line back in the days of green, black, and white.

    Upon first fit and feel, I thought they were going to be too soft as I’m a fan of slightly firmer shoes. Have to admit, was impressed with how they rode. In a perfect world, I’d personally prefer the midsole a durometer point or two firmer but that’s me. I actually switched out the standard liner for an aftermarket liner with a bit firmer feel and that worked. Upper is great. While consumers will have to size up a half to full size on this style (it is just a number), fit is great.

    At the end of the day, I think adi has a good thing going here. Personally, can’t wait to see a trail version of this puppy! Wonder who’ll be rockin’ them on Wednesday nights first!!??

    • subthree says:

      Thanks, Jeff, and thanks for reading. Yes, I love the uppers on these shoes as well. I was expecting not too like them as I’ve been moving away from cushioned shoes, but they really have become my long run shoe at this point. Hmmm…a heavily cushioned trail shoe. Not so sure how I’d feel about that; I tend to like light on the trail.

  7. Andrew says:

    Hey Charles I just took these for a test run of only 2 miles and loved them! One of my few questions is I am a mid foot striker, and I was wondering if these would benefit me as much as the heel striking runners? I’m also running 50+ miles a week so I always buy a shoe that is very durable so I save more money in the wallet. Preferably always wore Brooks. The Adidas Rep came by the running store I work at and told me these would last longer than those shoes which is also why they are priced so high. So through all this would this last longer than other Brooks/any eva sole shoe? If so how many miles have you got out of these? I’m a 115+ pound male runner so usually shoes last longer for me than most people considering i’m a twig. I’m training for the San Antonio marathon at the moment and am hoping to break 3 hours to qualify for Boston. My last question to you is should I use these as my all around training shoe all the way up to the day of the marathon which is 2 months away and run in a racing training shoe, or should I just use them on Long Runs to get use to them on those longer runs then use them for the marathon? Sorry for the very long response!

    • subthree says:

      Andrew, great questions. I’m largely a mid-foot striker, although when I tire I will heel strike for short periods. My Boost are now at 350-plus km and I believe they still have miles left in them, although at longer distances they’re starting to feel a bit firmer now than when I first got them. At my peak training in these, I would have been about 120 pounds. Whether you decide to swap out a training shoe for your marathon is a decision you will have to make. Personally, I used the Boost on my long runs, switched to other shoes for other work-outs and used the Boost for my marathon. Why? In general, I’ll alternate at least two pairs of shoes just to make both last longer, but I also like to use specific shoes for specific workouts. I loved the Boost’s cushioning for long runs, but like Mizuno Elixer’s mild platform for tempo runs. Currently, I like my Sketcher Go2s for easy runs, but couldn’t imagine racing in them. Whatever you decide, I hope you break three hours at San Antonio. Thanks for reading!

  8. Erica says:

    I just bought a pair and want to run my half in them tomorrow… is this feasible? Can I break these in at a race? I know generally speaking it’s not advised but they feel so good

    • subthree says:

      Erica, the rule of thumb is never do anything new in a race, including run in new gear, try a different kind of gel, etc. The Boost are amazingly cushy for sure though. I guess you need to decide whether your old shoes are shot to the point where you might be more uncomfortable in them than the Boost. The one thing is, though, you don’t necessarily know if you’ll find any hot spots on your foot from the Boosts, so that;s a risk you take. Have a great run. If you do use the Boosts, please let me know how it went.

  9. Gendi says:

    Hi Charles,

    Like your review. Quick question.

    Most of the time I’m midfoot striker, but sometimes I also do forefoot. Would you recommend energy boost for me? Thanks

    • subthree says:

      The Boost is definitely good for fore-and-mid-foot strikers, but I guess it comes down to how firm you like your shoes. Some people who have tried the Boost have found it too soft, although I believe you feel it more in the midfoot and heel than in the forefoot. Personally, I love the Boost as a long-distance trainer and race shoe. But my advice, as always, is try before you buy and compare how it feels with others. You usually know by the feel when you’ve found the shoe that suits you. Good luck, and thanks for reading.

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